Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I went to DC with Teachers from All Over Ohio

by Karen Linch, an Ohio BAT


I went to DC with teachers from all over Ohio.

One teacher shared how ESEA started; it was part of the war on poverty. Lyndon Johnson wanted to even the playing field for the poor. The law was twisted and turned over the years to blame communities and principals and teachers for failing kids. School funding in Ohio is illegal. It remains illegal. And thanks to the new budget, it will be worse next year. Wooster won't be as bad off as surrounding districts but we will feel it. Triway - oh my!

One teacher worked in a charter; she witnessed online charter abuse. Over 400 students who never logged in but received over $6,000 for each "student." Charters prey on students who are truant. It's easy money. That one online charter is in Wooster. Did you see how charters are lobbying now because they work with the most challenging kids in Ohio and they deserve a break from accountability? Seriously?!? What a crock!
One teacher works in Berea. She got into a bit of trouble last year because she showed her students how to find information about how to graduate WITHOUT passing a test. She also shared that our schools are not failing. Graduation rates are higher now than ever before. Poverty is the problem.

One teacher is from Youngstown. Her city has been duped big time. She will fight hard. Privatization of her public schools was slipped in at night by Kasich and the help of Dick Ross. The mayor will take over the schools; he didn't know it was happening! The legislator who worked on the legislation was duped. Her name was on it; it was high jacked and she refused to vote for her own bill. Kasich needs some talking points for the campaign trail.

One teacher is from Hilliard. She shared how the students who did not pass must take another reading class - no elective like art or music or gym. Another class to prove a child is a failure. That's NOT what's best for a child.

One teacher shared how she worked over 3 years to help a child grow and learn. 3 years to build up a child only to have it all torn down in one day. The child knew he would not pass. He knew he was letting down a much loved teacher (she never told him that!).

One teacher works in Dayton - 100% free and reduced lunch. Can you imagine? I can. Dayton will be next for the take over. 1. Prove schools are failing. 2. Keep them from improving. 3. Take them over. 4. The magic bullet didn't work? Why didn't it work? Because the magic bullet is who can make the most money from schools before anyone truly does something about it. Our own legislators "ran out of time" to take care of charter school accountability. Oh and they scrubbed the scores - teachers are in jail for that in Atlanta. A principal killed herself over that! What'll happen in Ohio charter land? They'll go on the campaign trail with Kasich.

I shared how I was told by a veteran teacher several years ago that my job depended on getting students to pass a test. I believed him. The only way we use the test data is to figure out which students get extra services. I shared how teachers teach to a test because they either actually believe a test shows a kid's growth and a teacher's worth or they are fearful of losing their job. I explained how I took kids to continue test prep. I explained how one student got so frustrated by what I was doing, he hit his head against the wall. I stopped teaching test prep. I will never do it again. I'm sorry I was so hard headed to not see without a child hurting himself. I stressed how the climate in our buildings to put test scores before a child's needs is creating a toxic climate. We are not able to take care or even acknowledge kids' needs because of the climate. Our kids are hurting themselves. They are screaming out for help in many ways.

I choose to listen to the children from now on. I choose to ask questions for the children. I choose to not blame a parent for a child's behavior. I choose to figure out what's best for each child and speak up for that child. I choose to take the time necessary. Relationships is what is most important for all children. For those of you who know me, that will be hard for me - slow down and get to know a child. I want to help them read! There's only so much time; read, read, read! Oh boy!

I left DC feeling defeated. We had 13 appointments. We spoke to one real legislator. He represented one of our teachers. He listened; he also has lots of misconceptions.

The rest were aides. Legislative aides are 20 something and not teachers keeping their boss up to date on legislation they will vote on. They rarely took notes on what we said. They rarely asked questions. They prob don't know what questions to ask. I know I didn't in my 20's.

Some had teachers in their families. Most listened respectfully. Most went to public schools.
Many are TFA alumni. They taught for 2 years and they know what's wrong with education. The most upsetting for me was Sherrod Brown's aide. She is smart and cares and she has TFA lenses. My interpretation of TFA. Smart kids from Ivy League schools teach/survive in a high poverty district with little to no support. The support depends on the veteran staff. If they survive they are experts in all things education. I know I was no expert year 2! TFA is in Cleveland. They usually go to places with teacher shortages but they are branching out. They use teaching as a stepping stone to bigger and better things - like government - informing legislators about education bills and legislation. They are cheap. They don't stay in a district saving money - lots of money.

Teaching is the bigger and better thing to me. I want people who represent me to know what I do and how laws effect/affect the students I get to work with.

The new ESEA (I don't have the acronym yet) will most likely put the power for most things at the state and local levels. That means our local legislators need to hear our stories. Our legislators need to hear from us - not through an aide.

Public education has lots of money. People who do not care about our students want to get a piece of the action. And that is definitely not what's best for kids.

I did have some hopeful moments. I will continue to look for hope.

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